Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I want to be an *Astrophysicist*! [Need guidance]

  1. Jan 27, 2008 #1
    ...Well,I'm a 15 years old kid looking forward to be an astrophysicist someday...however i really need guidance,so can i start building up some *aspects* that may lead me into great opportunities.

    First of all,I am pretty much interested in astronomy(galaxy,black holes,cosmology,planets,etc etc etc)..So...does astrophysics is the field that studies all that?

    This may be one of the irritating question,but....which is THE *best* university to study physics?

    As of now,I am studying in Canada,in a simple high school and am doin pretty well in all my subjects(with an average of 83%).Any particular fields I should work and concentrate on?...(I believe some universities will demand great marks for certain subjects,such as science,physics and math in order to be admitted

    .........That'll be all...I guess

    Any advise,tips,etc...is appreciated.

    Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2008 #2
    Astrophysics is fantastically interesting, isn't it? You've asked some pretty basic questions, so I'll give some basic answers. Respond if you'd like more details about anything in particular.

    Yes, astrophysics or space sciences encompasses all those subject and more. Within astrophysics, there are cosmologists, planetary scientists, etc.

    Honestly, I don't think that question has an answer. What's best for you probably isn't best for the next person. Asking, "What is a good university to study physics?" is a different question than asking, "How can I best study physics at a university?" In my opinion, any university that encourages you to learn, challenges you, and supports you as you grow is a good place to study physics.

    Great! The obvious answers are math and science classes, particularly physics and physics-related. Most universities will want you to have taken classes in basic physics and basic calculus. The more advanced, the better, but you're limited by what courses your school offers.

    Best of luck to you!
  4. Jan 27, 2008 #3
    Thank You Laura.

    Any recommendations regarding some 'practical' things I can do to establish a good 'knowledge' before heading for college and uni for physics....?
  5. Jan 27, 2008 #4
    You could read books/textbooks such as Discovering the universe or The New solar system to get an idea what basic astronomy is like.
  6. Jan 27, 2008 #5
    Well....I do hope for more advises ^.^....common people,drop some advices/tips,I might be tomorrow's Einstein :P
  7. Jan 27, 2008 #6
    Thanks for the answer PowerIso.

    I've read numerous books related basic astronomy.Thats not really my concern in this thread....xD
  8. Jan 27, 2008 #7
    Okay, then read INTRO TO GALAXIES & COSMOLOGY, by jones.

    I'm not really sure what level you are at, you're 15, so you may think you know "basic astronomy" but may not really know. Who knows. you might actually know some of it, but there is so much to it that it wouldn't hurt reading more on it.

    The only thing you can really do right now is work on your math and science skills. Learn some physics, but to learn physics, you'll need a good grasp of trig, vectors, and sometimes calculus. Learn the spherical coordinate system, learn group theory, and raise your grade and develop good study habits.
  9. Jan 27, 2008 #8
    Whoa,thanks once again...for that advice.Seems like more work.Also,what exactly do you mean by :"good grasp of trig, vectors, and sometimes calculus. Learn the spherical coordinate system, learn group theory"?

    I believe I wont be learning that in high school o.0....???
  10. Jan 27, 2008 #9
    ...Beside,math will be a huge hurdle in this,how can I train to be *really* good(obviously not school...teacher dont have enough..time =.=)................Tuition????

    P.S.:My average in math is 80%!!!!! I want to raise it up to 88%+.....=.=
  11. Jan 27, 2008 #10
    I'm just trying that if you are weak in math, work at it really hard. You should learn in high school, trig, and calculus. If you are lucky, you'll be introduced into the spherical coordinate system along with the cylindrical system in some form of advance high school math. I wouldn't worry if you don't get to that, but my point is don't get ahead of yourself. You gotta first work on your basic physics and math skills. If you are bad at algebra, get good at it. Once you got a good head on algebra, go to trig. Once you are okay with trig move onto calculus. It's a process.

    Part of being a good student is the ability to self-study. I'm sure you got a library somewhere near you, they tend to have plenty of decent books to self-study from. If you don't (for some reason), then use online sources. It's hard work, but so is physics, but if you enjoy the material it goes by easier.
  12. Jan 27, 2008 #11
    Thanks so much..........now then,I'll sleep....lets see what tomorrow holds for me :)...

    Thx a lot for some answers up there,and keep em comin!!
  13. Jan 28, 2008 #12
    If you're averse to work, you probably shouldn't be an astrophysicist. The reality is that an astrophysicist basically has to get a master's degree in math in order to understand everything. It will be motivated by theory, and you'll learn the math from physics books (for the most part), but a bachelor's degree in physics requires four semesters of calculus and maybe linear algebra. A PhD in astrophysics will require a LOT more.
  14. Jan 28, 2008 #13
    You might find it useful to learn some computer programming. Astronomers spend a lot of time getting computers to do the heavy lifting.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2008
  15. Jan 28, 2008 #14
    What`s the difference between a astronomer and a astrophysicist?

    Do they study the same field?

    They both requir a phD in physics right?
  16. Jan 28, 2008 #15
    When I was interested in this, I contacted accredited schools nearby about their programs.
    You might want to do the same, of course with the I-net you can search and many will send you catalogues or pamphlets listing the core curriculum involved in attaining a degree there on that subject.
    Also, someone within the dept. could advise you where to focus your discipline.

    It's not like some think, where you observe the sky or data of, then Mathematically assume a model for everything you're trying to encompass.

    You can easily work in this field maintaining systems, and cataloguing data. And, even hit it on the other end from another discipline with a theory that others can (d)establish.

    Some in this area are trained solely visibly, in order to better detect as before unobserved celestial occurrence. Others, tend to work with nothing but the data. And, rarely look upwards for what they need. Just throw around the data via computer/hand scale till something falls into place.

    I'd start hitting some .edu sites, and requesting info. As, you're never to young to focus on your interest.

    As far as what books to study, in general at the high school level. Plane Geometry and Physical Science are broad subjects that will contain information that relates, and should be available to you at your school library.

    Good luck with it.
  17. Jan 28, 2008 #16
    Thanks delta_moment.

    As for the 'plane geometry' your recommending,will it be something that is normally integrated in high school studies or i'll have to study /practice with some hire teacher ^.^(or myself,that'll be hard..)


    P.S.:Any recommendations for any books that I can buy to practice algebra and other math sh*ts.....:)

    Also,for my question above,can some1 tell me if if *****an astronomer does the same thing as an astrophysicist*******?

    Thx once again...
  18. Jan 28, 2008 #17
    Well,regarding the above post,I was wondering if any1 can recommend me couple of books i can read/study/analyze/practice and improve my science,physics and math skills (as of now im 15/in 9th grade)....

    Thx..........very helpful...this forum :-)
  19. Jan 28, 2008 #18
    .... and how good do you think an 80% avg in math for a 9th grade student is?.........by my 11th year(which is still in high school...here in Canada,in the provence of Quebec...=.=) I need to have an avg of 90% at least..........(<--- personnel goal)

    I'll be starting physics and chemistry next year...and....umas of know,in science,my avg is 83.............which I want to increase to 90% too!!!!(any tips, a part dedication MORE TIME TO STUDY,any practical thing that can help *understand*?)

    Geez... laslty....i only study about 1-2 hr/day..though not *always*...How should my study in home be....?...

    *so confused ...o.0*
  20. Jan 28, 2008 #19
    I would like to make my comment on this.
    Don't be so hard on yourself! Who cares whether you have 83% or 90% in 9th grade! You know, high school isn't that serious. It's only at university that things get serious. God, you're only 15! My advice to you is to stop worrying and enjoy your years at school. Go out, hang out with friends. You'll study enough at university, I promise. Don't worry about people on this forum who tell you "you should learn trig, calculus, algebra and spherical coordinates" or whatever. Group theory, come on! You're 15 and you're a normal student (by that I mean not someone like Terence Tao with an IQ of 180, no offense). Just make sure you understand everything at school first and then you can *eventually* read some more advanced stuff about maths or physics.
    If physics really interest you in the first place, you shouldn't come here on this forum and ask people what books you should read. It should come naturally. Go to the physics section in your nearest library, pick a book you're interested in and start reading. You see, I think you "force" yourself too much. At your age, you shouldn't have any pressure on yourself or whatsoever. I got interested in Computer Science when I found an old book of my dad's about C and I just tried to program some things. It got me and I kept reading and learning more about it. But my attitude wasn't at all "Oh, now I should study this and then I have to do this and..." but I just enjoyed myself when I was programming little games or applications. It was all very spontaneous and it was more a hobby that anything else. You should feel the same about physics, if that is what really interests you.
    My conclusion is that you should be glad with the results you have. I mean, an average of 80% is great! But don't just try to be someone you're not.

    I hope you take my advice,

  21. Jan 28, 2008 #20
    Caltech (possibly biased... ok 100% biased, but you have to admit, its good (and depressingly hard))

    :smile: It makes me glad to see other people my age taking interest in physics. Where I live it seems like a pretty rare interest and can be somewhat lonely at times

    What I would recommend is reading as much as is within your ability to read (and maybe push the envelope a bit.) Personally, I cant yet understand the maths required for a lot of higher level physics, so I read books for laymen (i suggest you go by your local bookstore or library and check out the science section, read some stephen hawking and the like), watch lectures online (http://webcast.berkeley.edu/courses.php" and I try to learn some of the basics in hopes of eventually getting up to the big stuff. Kinematics can be your friend (or worst nightmare).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook